Christology


Story of ChristianityMuch of the Bible is written in narrative form.  It tells a story – a true story, but a story nonetheless.  There is a lot of information in the Bible to digest, and it’s easy to get lost in the details and miss the big picture.  So how does one put it all together?  What is the essence of the Biblical story?  What is the basic story line from Genesis to Revelation?  Various attempts have been to condense the major themes and events in the Bible into a coherent, terse story line.  Here is my attempt to arrange the puzzle pieces into a clear picture, such as it is.  I hope it will tie together some loose ends that may exist in your mind and offer you a bird’s-eye view of the greatest story ever told: (more…)

“Heresy” is a word that gets thrown around rather loosely these days.  We will cavalierly declare someone a heretic because their views on eschatology differ from our own.  It’s famously been said that “heresy is what you believe, while orthodoxy is what I believe.”  But heresy is not the same as error.  Not all theological errors or false doctrines rise to the level of heresy.  A heresy is a belief held by a confessing Christian that is sufficient to damn their soul.  To charge someone with heresy is not merely to say that their theology is wrong, but that it is so wrong that they do not qualify as a Christian and are not saved.

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Christology and NTI purchased Christology and the New Testament by Christopher Tuckett a couple of years ago, but just finally got around to reading it recently.

This book takes a look at the subject of Christology, but from a purely Biblical perspective (no post-apostolic theological development or creedal affirmations are considered).  Tuckett, who teaches NT at the University of Oxford, looks at how each NT author presents Jesus, particularly through – but not limited to – their ascription of various titles to Jesus.  While Tuckett is liberal in his theological conclusions (and it’s not even clear that he is a confessing Christian), his presentation of the Biblical data is quite good.  He has a great way of bringing out the Christological emphasis of the different NT authors/books.

If you are looking for a good introduction to NT Biblical Christology, this is a good resource.

The four gospels contain a lot of Jesus’ teachings on a variety of topics.  What do you consider to be the most important things Jesus taught or did?  I’m not looking for generalities such as “His moral teachings,” but specifics such as “Jesus’ teaching that we are to love our enemies as found in Mt 5:43-44.”

 

Oneness Pentecostals (OPs) have always struggled to explain the duality of activity and consciousness we see portrayed in Scripture between the Father and Son.  The Father is doing one thing, while the Son is doing another; the Father knows all things, while the Son knows only what the Father reveals to Him; the Father is prayed to, while the Son prays.  How can this distinction of activity and consciousness be explained other than in terms of multiple persons?  Admittedly, that would be the most obvious and natural explanation.  And yet, because we are persuaded that the Biblical affirmation of monotheism extends both to God’s essence and God’s person, OPs have sought an alternative explanation that is Biblically and philosophically sound.

The standard way of explaining the distinction of activity/consciousness between the Father and Son is to appeal to a duality of natures.  The human nature of Jesus is said to do X, while the divine nature of Jesus (the Father) is said to do Y.  On this account, Jesus’ prayers can be explained as the human nature praying to the divine nature.  What I find interesting about this explanation is that it simply swaps the word “person” for “nature.”  What Trinitarians refer to as “two persons,” we refer to as “two natures.”  Functionally speaking, the two phrases are equivalent, for both admit the presence and distinction of two metaphysically distinct entities.  On the Trinitarian view, there are two metaphysically distinct persons in communion with one another, whereas on the OP view, there are two metaphysically distinct natures in communion with one another.  The only substantive difference is that on the Trinitarian view both entities are divine, whereas in the OP view one is divine and one is human.

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The Bible begins with one of the most famous proclamations of all time: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Theologians have historically understood “in the beginning” to refer to the very beginning of time itself.  It was the boundary between timeless eternity and temporality. 

Fast forward to the first century A.D.  John opens his gospel about Jesus Christ with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”  The resemblance to Genesis is unmistakable.  Both Moses and John begin their work with “in the beginning,” and both speak of the creative word of God. 

The question arises as to whether John is using “in the beginning” in the same way as Moses.  For Moses it referred to the beginning of time and creation, but that’s how John is using it, then to say the Word was “in the beginning” seems to imply that the Word was not eternal, but a created entity who began to exist concomitantly with the created realm.  Clearly this cannot be the correct interpretation because John 1:1 identifies the Word as being God (whom we know is eternal, and thus existed “prior to” the universe), and John 1:3 identifies the Word as the uncreated creator.  Why, then, would John say the Word was “in the beginning?”  Why not say Jesus was “before the beginning” or “before the ages?”  What is your take on the matter?

I have devised a test to quickly determine whether someone holds to a Nestorian Christology.  Ask, “What would have happened to Jesus’ body if the Spirit would have departed from it prior to Jesus’ death on the cross?”  If they answer that Jesus would have continued to live and function, they hold to a Nestorian Christology.  Here’s why:

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